Priscilla, Queen of the Desert star explains why main cast were all straight men

The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert

Actor Hugo Weaving, who starred in the 1994 cult film The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, has explained why the main cast were all straight men.

The Australian film follows two drag queens and a trans woman travelling across the Australian outback, and has been praised for bringing positive LGBT+ representation to mainstream cinema.

But all three of the Priscilla, Queen of the Desert’s protagonists were played by straight, cisgender men.

Speaking to Stellar magazine, Weaving said that writer and director Stephan Elliott struggled to find LGBT+ actors to take on the roles.

He said: “In fact, Stephan approached a number of gay actors – not that you have to be gay to play a drag queen – but they didn’t want to be playing those roles.”

Weaving also waded into the debate on straight actors in queer roles, insisting he thought it was “nonsense”.

“There’s an insanity about the casting – the whole idea of acting is to understand the ‘other’,” he said.

“Actors perform a role, which is to illuminate the other – not to illuminate themselves.”
But many disagree with Weaving, believing that LGBT+ roles should go to LGBT+ actors, who are less represented in the industry and who are able to truly understand the queer experience.

Recently, Michael Urie told PinkNews why it was so important that gay actors be cast as gay characters in his new queer Christmas film Single All The Way.

He said: “I don’t have any real power, but I was very clear that we need to make sure the other guys are really gay.

“I was like, it’s gonna be a lot easier in a year when I’m on Zoom doing junkets if we can speak authentically about our gay experience.

“It’s going to be a lot easier than tiptoeing around the fact that my co-star, who I spend the entire movie falling in love with, doesn’t know what it’s like to be in love with a man.”

Urie added that if a straight person plays a queer role “then the narrative is all like, ‘You were so convincing!’”

“Come on, give me a break,” he said. “We’ve done that, we’re tired of that, we don’t need that anymore.”